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GHOSTED GROUND at the National Fairground and Circus Archive


An exhibition by Joanna Whittle at the University of Sheffield following a year -long period of research with the National Fairground and Circus Archive.


Ghosted Ground explores otherness and disconnectedness whilst uncovering themes of mourning, love, and movement across the landscape emerging from letters, postcards, and photographs in the archive. These landscapes speak of the movement of people and the traces they leave behind, where the landscape becomes haunted by absence, becoming a ghosted ground of echoes.


The paintings produced consider how fairground architecture has been used to define the fragile boundaries of these ghosted spaces and the communities which exist within and beyond their real and imagined boundaries. This exhibition is a journey through the landscapes and structures of the fairground and circus as well as a celebration of the identity of Showmen through the contemplation of the history of lives lived within and alongside these structures.


Ghosted Ground has been supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and by the University of Sheffield Library. The project involved multiple collaborations with fairground Showmen, circus performers, photographers, academics, and community groups. The exhibition includes oral histories, collections from the National Fairground and Circus Archive, loans from the Sheffield and District African Caribbean Community Association, photographs by Bob Chase and Julie Pinington Wright, and work from the Society of Explorers and The Big House.

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